The Big Picture: Continanity

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Excellent video. I have had friends attempt to explain all this to me, but your video was the clearest explanation I have ever heard. This is also pretty much why I stick to trade paperbacks that collect an entire complete story or comics published under the Vertigo imprint.

Keep it up Bob!

And this is why the only comics I ever read were Watchmen and the Halo comics...

I like a normal and simple continuity, thank you very much.

Though I never knew it was THAT insane O_o

A fine episode, MovieBob, it really covers basically what is wrong with the superhero comic book company universes and I hope you elaborate further in a future installment.

I'm detecting a series here. Next will probably be "event addiction" for Marvel and "Character abuse" for DC.

Still it does seem the underlying premis will always be that comics aren't popular because they expect you to retain more historical knowledge than any other form of entertainment. While I contend this is less of a problem in the days of the internet and wikipedia than it was in the 80s, I do see the delema. Too much convoluted continuity makes books inacessable, too little kills the connection with the book reducing them to episodic distractions (think James Bond, Perry Mason, or the Simpsons).

Still, I prefer a little convolution to my story. I may have to hit wiki every so often to see what was up with Firestorm in Blackest Night, but it sure beats the scouring of back issue bins that I used to have to do.

littlerudi08107:
Power Girl is a feminist!? Are you kidding me? Her tits are her super hero logo!

Actually, she was an icon of feminism. What is often overlooked, especially by modern feminists is that feminism was originally about sexuality. Women started their plight for liberation in the bedroom. It was about showing their husband and boyfriends that sex was an enjoyably experience for the women too.

skfd:
You need balls to end something and start something new.

So many testicles wasted on forced new ideas.

When it comes naturally I'm all for it though.

But it comes naturally so rarely.

Comics have a bit of a problem with continuity in general. That's ok though. It's part of the fun. Jump in and figure it out. :) It's also why there are so many reboot's, or separate series. In my opinion that is all Marvel's Ultimate's was, a place for newbies to start fresh.

AC Drawings:
A fine episode, MovieBob, it really covers basically what is wrong with the superhero comic book company universes and I hope you elaborate further in a future installment.

Ditto.

theultimateend:

skfd:
You need balls to end something and start something new.

So many testicles wasted on forced new ideas.

Spectacular reply. XD

rddj623:
In my opinion that is all Marvel's Ultimate's was, a place for newbies to start fresh.

That and one valid to attempt to explain the surge of so many super individuals.

rddj623:
Comics have a bit of a problem with continuity in general. That's ok though. It's part of the fun. Jump in and figure it out. :)

Yeah, no.

I hate feeling every third panel that I'm missing something and have no idea what's going on. Well, that's exaggerating, but still.

You know DC dose need to set some ground rules for there comics.

Like how about this you have just a simple sires with the standard TV rule of one universe/reality. This simple sires has only one rule no multi-universe stuff so as to keep it friendly for the non nerds or new comers to comics. DC then gives it the simple stamp on the cover so new comers can find it easily.

Then we have everything else with the multivers. They do not have the simple stamp.

Big Picture? More like tinniest sliver. In order to properly explain DC's continuity you'd need a full 2 hour documentary. Maybe more.

Incidentally, Cracked.com had a great article last week about crazy comic book resurrections:
http://www.cracked.com/article_18835_5-absurd-ways-comic-books-have-resurrected-dead-superheroes.html
One of the ones mentioned is Jason Todd, a product of that whole Infinite Crisis thing.

See, this is why I don't read comic books.

Bob, I don't want to be picky but theres high tone background noise in your microphone or audio. Most of people can't hear it but it is annoying the hell out of me since I have extremely good hearing.
Please fix this... Try cutting all useless high tones with compressor or EQ...
Thanks.

Good episode otherwise, even I am not a comic person.

This is why I got out of comics for so many years...stuff got too damn stupid for me.

Started reading manga and rarely went back until 52 & Final Crisis came out.

I quite enjoyed all the Crises-es-es, although Final Crisis did become a bit of a cluster fuck, and there's lots of side stories and stuff that make it all make sense, even the hardback "Compilation" of Final Crisis, leaves a massive chunk out that requires you read Batman RIP (I think) alongside it, as otherwise Batman goes missing at the start of Final Crisis and then turns up at the end to save the day, with no explaination of how he escaped or anything.

If you're a casual reader, just pick one series to read and go, I would assume if you're a casual reader you're not going to get -too- much into it, so you may not even notice the continuity errors, although if you're a hardcore fan, then you may end up having to read a heck of a lot more than you intended to make things add up at times.

Nexus4:
Umm... Shouldn't the title be 'Continuity' and not 'Continanity'?

Nope, its an Earth 3 thing... In that universe its exactly the same as this universe but Continuity is spelled differently. Like Kal'El Kal'L.

I'd like to point out that Countdown was not the worst thing ever written by DC... Trinity was the worst thing written by DC... But only because Final Crisis is to fucked up to be considered an actual narrative (also i'm trying to retcon it out of existance).

-M

MovieBob:

littlerudi08107:
Power Girl is a feminist!? Are you kidding me? Her tits are her super hero logo!

She's oldschool "liberation"-era feminist, i.e. "I should be able to dress like this and have it be no big deal, and if you look at 'em the wrong way I'll put you in traction." ;)

Believe it or not, her cleavage "logo" at one point had a feminist origin: Earth-2 Supergirl decided that wearing a girl version of her cousin's outfit was sexist and wanted a new look/identity. When Superman presented her with her new "grownup" costume, she got pissed because he'd still stuck "his" symbol on the chest; so she burned it off with heat-vision and just left the empty spot to make a point. I'm not sure where that was originally published, or if its still canon, but apparently that's why she looks "like that."

So goes the legend, her breasts are so big because a certain DC artist decided to keep making them slightly bigger each month to see how long it'd take for the editors to notice. By the time they did, they'd become her "trademark."

While indeed Power Girl's massive tracts of land have become her defacto symbol, when under the command of a good creative team like writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with artist Amanda Conner, actually become a bloody good fun comic.


I'll admit I bought the first paperback trade cos I thought 'can TV Tropes' chosen Mascot for Most Common Superpower be a good character?'. The answer is yes, because it embraces the sort of escapist lunacy that I personally look for in a comic. Seriously, the first volume involves a super intelligent gorilla lifting Manhatten out of the Earth's crust.

And indeed the breasts getting bigger, is a legend. Snopes covered it.

Plus I'm a big fan of anything that makes the cast of the Big Bang Theory look like the douchebags they are:

image

My only regret is that the situation didn't allow for full on Kryptonian intimidation.

Comics to me is starting to sound the dumbest and stupidest things ever. The stuff just seems dumb. When a franchise goes on for 60 years with thousands of stories told. you can see it will never be any good. Also how are comics the big picture. I was hoping for something a little more intellectual. Something like Extra Credits but not just devoted to games.

this may just be because i'm european, but... does anyone get the idea this is not so much the big picture as the american comics industry picture?

no offence, the idea here is that bob talks about whatever interests him, but for me most of this stuff just doesn't ring any bells. i'm aware these characters exist, but i never really read any american superhero - style comics, so all of this doesn't really interest me.

maybe you could lay off the (american) comics subjects for a while?

Boba Frag:

Marvel are doing him to death though. I love Deadpool but they've run characters into the ground before... Enjoy him while he lasts.

It's true... but that's why I've stopped reading most of the side series'.

Fronzel:

CaptainCrunch:
I've come to expect a new Crisis every so often, because it provides the freedom to explore topics that would otherwise be impossible (like having Superman raised in Soviet Russia), without just saying "it never really happened."

Red Son didn't have anything to do with any of the Crises, though there may be something I don't know...which is a given if you don't spend a lot of time on the damn cape books.

Regardless, I think you're barking up the wrong tree. What do you mean "didn't happen"? Obviously Soviet Superman is incompatible with the main Superman series and in that context it "doesn't count", but that doesn't somehow invalidate it as a story, nor would the opposite be true. It's just a book about "what if superman landed in the USSR"? That's all you need.

At during 52 and Countdown, each of the Elseworlds was considered a universe all its own. I'm hazy on Final Crisis details (haven't had the time yet), but even if it resolves with the destruction of Red Son universe - DC nevertheless acknowledges its existence as a part of the greater continuity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman:_Red_Son#Continuity_in_the_DC_Universe

CaptainCrunch:

Fronzel:

CaptainCrunch:
I've come to expect a new Crisis every so often, because it provides the freedom to explore topics that would otherwise be impossible (like having Superman raised in Soviet Russia), without just saying "it never really happened."

Red Son didn't have anything to do with any of the Crises, though there may be something I don't know...which is a given if you don't spend a lot of time on the damn cape books.

Regardless, I think you're barking up the wrong tree. What do you mean "didn't happen"? Obviously Soviet Superman is incompatible with the main Superman series and in that context it "doesn't count", but that doesn't somehow invalidate it as a story, nor would the opposite be true. It's just a book about "what if superman landed in the USSR"? That's all you need.

At during 52 and Countdown, each of the Elseworlds was considered a universe all its own. I'm hazy on Final Crisis details (haven't had the time yet), but even if it resolves with the destruction of Red Son universe - DC nevertheless acknowledges its existence as a part of the greater continuity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman:_Red_Son#Continuity_in_the_DC_Universe

You see, that's what I'm talking about? What on earth is the point is even thinking about that? That story was about how Superman would be different if he grew up in the Soviet Union, so he has the same altruistic spirit but a different ideology. That's pretty interesting. Wondering whether or not it's part of some nonsense multiverse concept is a dreary mental dead-end. Is this what the people at DC are thinking about? They're wasting their time.

NERDGASM

that is all

damn if i ran dc, i'd just say screw it and declare each of the universes a different cannon and FORBID them EVER crossing paths with each other. then i would allow the minions to do whatever they liked with whatever intellectual property they liked.

i am a merciful ruler.

I vote that Bob just keeps doing comic book videos for the rest of forever (along with escape to the movies, of course) I REALLY want to see him do a video that somehow involves Blackest Night.

matthew_lane:

Nexus4:
Umm... Shouldn't the title be 'Continuity' and not 'Continanity'?

Nope, its an Earth 3 thing... In that universe its exactly the same as this universe but Continuity is spelled differently. Like Kal'El Kal'L.

...umm...ok, thanks... I think...

Fronzel:

CaptainCrunch:

At during 52 and Countdown, each of the Elseworlds was considered a universe all its own. I'm hazy on Final Crisis details (haven't had the time yet), but even if it resolves with the destruction of Red Son universe - DC nevertheless acknowledges its existence as a part of the greater continuity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman:_Red_Son#Continuity_in_the_DC_Universe

You see, that's what I'm talking about? What on earth is the point is even thinking about that? That story was about how Superman would be different if he grew up in the Soviet Union, so he has the same altruistic spirit but a different ideology. That's pretty interesting. Wondering whether or not it's part of some nonsense multiverse concept is a dreary mental dead-end. Is this what the people at DC are thinking about? They're wasting their time.

While I choose not to speculate about what goes on in the minds of the people at DC, I don't think it's a waste of time to reinforce concepts in the 'main' continuity with those found in 'one-off' ideas like Elseworlds. It provides a bridge for readers of different types to access refined concepts they hadn't really thought about. I know many people who have read Elseworlds that could care less about the rest of the continuity, and just about as many that think the iconic 'original' depictions are the only way we can think about superheroes.

Incorporating an expanding and contracting multiverse allows these bridges, while minimizing facepalms like Star Trek's Klingons suddenly changing appearance - and passing it off with "we don't want to talk about that."

In the case of Red Son - the purpose for including it in 52/Countdown was to show the deterministic nature of the Red Son universe, as a reflection of our expectations. While I can see how this point is lost on casual readers, it's there because less casual readers actually want to see DC thinking about how they handle the multiverse concept. Sometimes it certainly is nonsense and poor writing, but it's obvious in these cases that they simply were including unpolished concepts for the sake of timeliness.

SinisterGehe:
Bob, I don't want to be picky but theres high tone background noise in your microphone or audio. Most of people can't hear it but it is annoying the hell out of me since I have extremely good hearing.

Yeah he really needs to fix that, I have damaged hearing and I can hear the high pitched tone in the background too... oh wait, never mind :P

Back to the topic. I've read a few comic books, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but there's no denying it's messed up. What's so bad is not the lengthy, complicated back story you need to know, it's how utterly ridiculous said back story gets. When you look at some of the things that have been written into a character's story in the name of continuity fixes and retcons it sometimes makes it hard to take the character seriously.

Such a shame that stuff like this keeps people from reading comics. Or even going so far as saying that the Japanese do it better (no they don't, it's just different).

You can easily pick up books and jump right in without having to know all this stuff. I didn't know anything about the Wildstorm universe and hopped in feet first by picking up a trade of Divine Right on a whim and I felt right at home. Sure, there were a load of characters I didn't know that showed up and apparently that Grifter guy is some kind of big shot (he's like their version of Wolverine) but hey, there was a story going on and it was quite enjoyable.

Individual storylines DO end in the super-hero books. Sometimes something changes about a certain character or relationship but you can easily gloss over that and simply read about the threat they're facing at that moment. Then, once you've seen that some crew/character face a number of villains those bits that you used to think were in the way actually make the book more readable or interesting.

Unless you pick up one of those upheaval books, which is a rare occurence, this stuff is no reason not to read comics. You're robbing yourself of some great stories if this is the thing holding you back.

And otherwise there's always the books that don't deal with either of the two great continuities. And Nextwave.

It's good that I am not a fan of American comics. I despise retcons with a passion and superhero comics are filled with retcons after retcons.

People saying 'This is why I don't read comic books' are acting very ignorant.

Reading Crisis on Infinite Earths, followed by Infinite Crisis, is an excellent and very rewarding experience. Infinite Crisis is probably my third favourite Comic Book mini/maxi-series (I forget which) that I have ever read, just behind Identity Crisis, and The Watchmen.

DC, thanks to the sheer epic frame within which they set their narratives have some of the greatest villains of all time. Anti-Monitor actually consumes entire universes for his own needs. Superboy Prime is a super bad-ass with a more relatable rational behind his villainous actions. While trying to prove himself as the 'proper' Superboy he inadvertently killed several members of the Teen Titans with the back of his hand. Black Hand, The Black Lanterns and the Black Power battery all links in with this rich, if somewhat convoluted back story, and Blackest Night is super-rad.

Give it a chance guys, you might just fall in love with the bombastic story-telling. ^^

Thanks to Bob and one particularly persistent comic loving friend, I have made an effort to read and enjoy comics. This was largely a doomed effort.

I can certainly read and enjoy a collection of comics that tells a narrative arc of course, but a problem arises whenever I try and read other comics dealing with the same character. It turns out, while I value continuity in that I expect an action to have a reasonable reaction, what I value more is character consistency.

This isn't to say that I think a character ought to be static. That a character changes in reaction to their experiences is important (as is a character failing to change in reaction to their experiences but that is another subject entirely). The problem is that the entire multiverse concept simply created a scenario in which the only constant in a character was their title. Their costume, their mission, their origin, their friends and enemies, their personalities, their looks, their powers - literally everything was up for changing.

I'm not going to stand upon a soapbox and declare that there is a particular correct version of a character or universe or any of that. I don't have anywhere near the knowledge necessary to even make a serious effort at such a pretentious task. But what I do want from a comic is a consistency of character. If a writer and artist wants to consider "But what if Batman was really Batgirl, and what if Batgirl killed people regularly" I would kindly request that they just create a new character to explore this concept.

Because if you're going to throw away everything anyway, why bother shackling yourself to something old and familiar. Let the interpretation stand on it's own as a unique character.

-edit- After writing this I realized that Batgirl exists except she was called Hit Girl if memory serves.

There is a reason i follow marvel. This is mostly it. Though honestly bob could a show on marvels continuity hiccups, jokes, deletions, and backtracks (I.E: The Devil and Mr. Parker). I like continuity because crazy shit isn't just tossed and forgotten. Remember when hawkeye went nuts? was a it a different epoisode? Then no. Didn't pheobe have a different boyfriend? That was last episode. Does firefly have any continuity? FOX; "No", Joss Whedon; "YES! PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP RAVAGING IT!"

But really the reason i follow marvel is a)Tony stark is the greastest character ever b)stan lee is one of the greatest people ever and c) trying to follow both continuities of both major publishers requires flow charts and time i usually spend with my wife and children.

Well you start with a story about a hero, and it makes more money as a serial so you never really tie-off the loose-ends

Then it starts to feel dated so you do a reboot every few decades

Then the material is getting a little tired so you do some "what if" and period and role-switching stories to keep it fresh
(and don't say they should have just made new characters. Besides the fact that Superman's name = instant sales, there is a big emotional difference between "What if Superman landed in the USSR?" and "What if this new-similiar-but-not-actually-superman-guy grew up in the USSR?" the DC heroes are iconic, there's no reason to write whole new characters unless you have an actual new archetype you want to explore)

The three points above are all straight-forward and reasonable

And then you say, well, what if the original "normal" superman met the soviet one? That would be interesting (this may not be an actual example because I don't actually read comics) How can we make that happen? And you say, oh they can sort of hop between dimensions/continuities sometimes for fun. And that leaves you with a multiverse, and that's really not too confusing or unreasonable if you ask me. (a quick trip to a dimension where everything is just a little bit different is pretty standard sci-fi fare)

What gets crazy and stupid is when fans start asking "Well what one is the real one?" Take the beginning of the video: "Well if that Flash was real, and that Flash was fictional how can they both hang out with Superman?" None of them are real you dorks, they're all fictional! That is part of why they are fun, you do not have to worry about silly things like what the hell Batman is doing in 1895, you can just roll with it because it is cool! Trying to tie 60 years worth of everything every author has ever written about a character together into one coherent lifetime is completely bat-poop insane, people. Clones and time travel and everything...why bother?
Let the stories stand on their own. Whichever iteration is your personal favorite is "the real one" for you.

And on a related note: I think it's blasphemous to switch authors in the middle of a story. Can you imagine a novel doing that? As somebody else said, every author should get their own earth# in the multiverse. (cross-dimensional stories could be collaborations, or only canon in the earth# of their author) If an author doesn't have enough new ideas to warrant their own earth# then what the heck do we want with this concept-less hack anyway? (I guess a group of authors could work together on an earth# if they shared a vision and collaborated a lot, that's not the same as switching authors.) No-switches would also force stories to end when the given author got bored/fired/dead. This would be healthy for the quality of any given storyline, as dastardly so eloquently explained.

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